Tips For Older Employees To Thrive In The Workplace

Tips For Older Employees To Thrive In The Workplace

Dear Sheree,

I am a 30-year employee at a major university and have recently gotten a new supervisor who is taking me to task for various minor errors. And as the only minority in my department, before she came, all my evaluations have been excellent. While I technically could retire, work for me is enjoyable and fulfilling. My finances are sound, but I would like to stay put for another couple of years to pay off a couple of bills. How do I turn things around with my supervisor before things get to the point where I am being forced out?

Anxious Ann

Dear Ann,

I commend you for being able to thrive and prosper in your work environment for 30 years! That is quite a big accomplishment. While you did not specifically identify your position or the types of errors that have been noted to you by your supervisor, here are my suggestions:

  1.  Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and ask to discuss the areas of concerns. Record every example or issue that is addressed. Rather than attempting to discuss at the time of your first meeting, explain to your supervisor you would like time to review the material privately. Tell her that you would like to schedule an appointment in the next two days.
  2.  Go through the list when you are alert and well rested and determine if there are any recurring patterns including time of day or specific tasks where your errors have been occurring.
  3. After you have identified if any patterns exist, determine the appropriate action plan you need to implement and share your plan with your supervisor. This could be as simple as asking for another set of eyes to review a document before it is sent out or doing highly detailed work at the beginning of the day when your mind is well rested.
  4. Be honest with yourself and determine if your energy level has changed to the point where you find yourself overly fatigued. It is not unusual as we age to become more aware of when our energy level fluctuates during the day. The first step is to check in with your doctor to find out if there are any health concerns that you need to address. If everything is fine, consider maintaining a consistent exercise program and committing to learning something new. And even more importantly, make sure you are getting enough rest.

As an older worker, it is important for you to realize that science has proven that our minds have the capacity to grow and process new information as we age. You mentioned your work as being fulfilling, however, my concern is that your brain has gotten used to the details on your job and you are not exposing yourself to learning new things. If you do not already have a  hobby or special interest that brings you joy, consider talking to your friends or members of your church or community for suggestions. In addition, I am going to suggest that you read, What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life by Bruce Frankel.

In addition, the best decision you can make is to strategically plan for your retirement by meeting with both your company’s retirement and human resource departments, as well as your own financial planner. You mentioned your goal to clear up a couple of debts before leaving your job, my advice is to create a Plan B in case you are asked to leave sooner than you anticipated. Do not be surprised if your new supervisor wants to open a dialogue on when you are planning to retire. If/when the conversation happens, make sure you have checked company guidelines and directives to have a firm and accurate grasp of your rights. In addition, it would be wise for you to role play with a trusted confidante on how you will handle questions that could be asked. It is understandable for you to have a strong allegiance to where you work but the reality is that in life, change is inevitable.

Older workers who want to remain in the workforce must be mindful of maintaining a youthful demeanor. Consider asking a younger person to assess your wardrobe and ask for suggestions of a couple of key items that will give your current look a lift. In addition, discuss ways to update your style with your hair stylist. And finally, you have not already done it, please make it a point to socialize with younger employees in the university.

My hope is that with a positive attitude and dedicated effort, you will be able to address and quickly change the areas of concern.


(Image: Sheree Franklin-Hill)

Intuitive Life Strategist Sheree Franklin helps people to find the courage to release their life challenges in order to live in alignment with their true self. (

She is the author of Intuition: The Hidden Asset Everyone Should Learn to Use.  To learn more about Franklin’s book, go to click here.

Sheree Franklin is a practitioner at Holistic Health Practice at One East Superior, in Chicago. You can email your questions at Her practice includes one-to-one coaching as well as speaking to organizations. For more information go to or call 312-664-8376.